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By Paul Baptist, Senior Director, Solution Engineering, Apac, Salesforce
For decades, the focus of the manufacturing industry has been on improving production processes and technology in order to better provide for mass demand and customization. With Toyota’s pioneering of lean manufacturing marking a turning point in the ability to harness technology inside the factory, now is the time to focus on the front office.
Investment in new customer facing technologies is the new competitive advantage for manufacturers in an age when customer expectations and needs have rapidly changed. Customers, armed with smartphones and connected via social media, now have more information at their fingertips than ever before. Their expectations of customer service and sales are set by companies like Airbnb and applicable to every business they deal with.
To meet this challenge, manufacturers and their partners in distribution and retail, need to identify and design their customer engagement strategy around the customer’s journey across sales, service and marketing. This needs to be from the first point of contact, right through to service and even field service being able to deliver a single, connected experience for the customer.
This focus on the customer in turn rewards manufacturers through maximizing the lifetime value of the customer via collecting data-driven insights for their products, having a continued ongoing relationship with their customers, and providing a truly superior customer service experience.
Why service is a manufacturer’s most important sales tool
It’s worth considering who in an organisation now has the most important and regular conversations with their customer base. Whether it’s a B2B or a B2C brand, it’s the service team which the customer turns to in their time of need and when the demand for an outstanding experience is most pronounced.
Investment in new customer facing technologies is the new competitive advantage for manufacturers in an age when customer expectations and needs have rapidly changed
Whether it’s a customer contacting for support, an enquiry, or a complaint, it’s the service team that triage and field these questions. It’s here that with the right processes and technology in place that organisations can truly differentiate over and above just selling a great product at a great price.
This is where Fisher & Paykel is ahead of the pack, investing in its field service team by providing them with customer service technology. Now, field service technicians have a single source of truth for their customer, instant access to information about that customer on mobile and easy management of scheduling with the dispatch team.
For customers, their service process is seamless and simplified, with automated confirmation reminders and tracking of their field service technician’s arrival time.
With a simpler process and easier to use technology, Fisher & Paykel has reduced training time from an average of nine months to just three weeks, saving $40,000 per operator in training costs.
How to bring your business on the journey to customer centricity
Many manufacturers are bogged down by a complex bundle of old, legacy technology which needs to be unpicked and replaced with modern, cloud based customer relationship management technology.
The best approach is one which involves the sales, service and marketing team working together to devise a clear strategy for improving each touchpoint of the customer journey. This planning needs to be led by a clear vision for the customer experience backed by KPIs for success like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or improved resolution times.
From there a staged approach is required to deploy new processes and technology, ensuring both customers and staff know about what’s changing, why and when. This is crucial to ensuring a seamless transition and ensuring widespread adoption.
Fisher & Paykel is a great, example of this, delivering a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction and a monthly two to three point increase in NPS.
The customer has changed what’s expected from businesses and now it is time for the focus to be on their experience. When manufacturers think about technology and process change in their organisation they should be focused on the customer journey and how they exceed their expectations at every step of the way.